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Friday, January 03, 2014

Appointment and removal of town court clerks


Appointment and removal of town court clerks
Reno v Van Voris, 170 Misc.2d 187, 230 A.D.2d 296

Section 20.1(a) of the NYS Town Law provides that the clerk of a town court "shall be employed and discharged from employment only upon the advice and consent of the town justice or justices." The Reno decision indicates that this 1990 amendment to the Town Law [Chapter 252, Laws of 1990] is to be strictly applied.

Roberta Reno was appointed as town court clerk by Town Justice Charles Assini, Jr., in 1988 and "was solely under his supervision."

In March 1996 Town of East Greenbush Town Justice Catherine Cholakis, the other of the Town's two sitting Town Justices, wrote the Town Supervisor requesting that Reno be terminated because of her alleged failure to correct deficiencies noted in an audit by the State Comptroller. This resulted in the Town Board's voting to suspend Reno without pay "until further notice" the following June.

Reno successfully challenged this action by the Board, winning a court order directing her reinstatement with back salary and benefits.

The Appellate Division affirmed, agreeing with the lower Court that Reno's unconditional and indefinite suspension without pay constituted a "discharge" within the meaning of Section 20.1(a).

The Appellate Division said that the legislative intent in amending Section 20.1(a) was to "blend the actions of the Town Board with the wishes of the Town Justice to whom the Court Clerk reports and to provide Town Justices with control over the selection and removal of their Court Clerks." As Reno was solely responsible to Justice Assini at the time of her suspension, the Court said that Assini's consent was required before the Town Board could be authorized to discharge her.
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Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

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Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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